Fashion and shopping, Melbourne style


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Entries in stripes (111)


Twice Vintage Bag

Three years ago, on June 1st, I bought a vintage 70s handbag made from stripes of genuine snakeskin from some op shop – I don’t remember where now. But I do remember I fell in love with it, as much for the plastic tortoiseshell frame and link strap as the patent leather.

I immediately began using it, but alas, tragedy struck exactly four weeks later, and one of the plastic links that attached the strap to the bag snapped in half! I was very disappointed, but at least it would be relatively easy to repair with a new strap.

I sourced some new and very similar chain link on Etsy, but there were quite a few different styles, and I could never decide which ones to buy. Then while I dithered, they would sell out, and I’d have to conduct a new search. I put the bag aside for a while, and forgot about it. I have no shortage of other bags after all.

Then nearly exactly three years later – on June 3rd – in a different op shop entirely, I found a scrap of chain link with a few little wooden, leather and mother-of-pearl doodads attached. Immediately I saw the possibilities of repurposing this remnant as a bag strap. It would be easy to take off the charms.

In the end, after reattaching the new strap, I decided I liked the dingle-dangles – they add a touch of whimsy. It’s quite possible it was actually a strap in a former life, as the charms are all quite low so that they don’t impede the shoulder. The bag is now a shoulder bag rather than hand-held, and looks quite jaunty.


Le Gendarme Avec Charme

Say bonjour to le gendarme Patrice! Normally he is not a gendarme, but a philanthropy manager at the theatre I work at. But yesterday he visited my desk and his eyes popped out with excitement when he saw my vintage Prada hat sitting on the table. “Can I try that on?” he begged, and as soon as he donned it, he was transformed.

He was already wearing an outfit bought entirely in Europe on his last trip: a Breton striped top from Merci in Paris, navy trousers from Philippa K in Denmark, shoes bought in Zurich, and a watch he adores from Larson & Jennings in NYC, but the crown of it all transformed him into a Gallic gendarme, with charm. Aptly, for the jet-setter he is, he poses by a poster of The New Yorker. Très stylé!  


Homage to Her Royal Majesty

It was a sad day last August when iconic French fashion designer Sonia Rykiel passed away (from complications of Parkinson’s disease). She was a fashion legend, and was the inventor of the Poor Boy Sweater, which features high cut armholes and a shrunken fit that makes it cling to the body. It was her own solution to finding stylish clothes to wear during her pregnancy in 1962. Italian-made, and sold through her husband’s store, it was eventually featured on the cover of French Elle magazine. And so the Queen of Knits was born.

I own a few knits from her label – two with pom-poms – which have featured in this style journal over the years, but this striped sweater with the skinny necktie was my favourite. (You can see it better here.) Sadly it developed quite a few holes that I darned, and continued to wear until it looked just too sad. I think I eventually donated to charity, and now I wish I had kept it as a Comfort Sweater to wear around home.

In these photos from three years ago, I am wearing it with black wide-leg trousers and a red wool beret. (I love my hair here too!)

Photos: August, 2014


The Original Candy-Striper

When I was a little girl, I loved the English children’s storybooks about Milly-Molly-Mandy. They were written and illustrated by Joyce Lankester Brisley, and were set in about 1920. The stories are set in a quaint English village, and follow the simple, every-day adventures of the title character, who lives in ‘the nice white cottage with the thatched roof’. Her full name is Millicent Margaret Amanda, which is shortened for ease. (According to my Oxford Dictionary of First Names, Molly was actually an alteration from Mally, a pet form of Mary.)

The original illustrations were darling, as was Milly-Molly-Mandy’s seven year old style. She wears a simple pink-and-white striped dress, a straw boater, white socks and black Mary-Janes – a children’s unisex classic shoe that in the Roaring Twenties transmogrified into adult women’s shoes and have never gone out of style since. (Check out this gorgeous children’s outfit at Sewpony, made by a modern mum who lives in country Victoria.)

I wonder if here is the genesis of my long love of the short bob, Mary-Janes and striped clothing? Inspired by one of my childhood heroines, I’ve styled an outfit for the grown-up Milly-Molly-Mandy, who now of course insists on being called by her proper name. She’s grown her hair out, but she still loves pink and white stripes.


Fashion Notes

The short-sleeved seersucker blouse is from Australian high-street store Witchery, the pleated skirt is by Moschino, the punctured brogue-style, patent T-bar heels by Scooter, and the striped elastic belt is, I think, vintage 80s. I can’t believe I forgot to include the boater however! All of these items I bought second hand.

Photo: December 2016


At Long Last, Summer

Summer is here at long last – hurrah! Months of gloriously languid days lie ahead, and months of skimpy outfits too. How wonderful it is to go outside with bare arms and legs, without carrying a heavy coat and hat and scarf and gloves … Although, living in Melbourne, one takes a risk going out without an umbrella!

One of my favourite colour combinations for summer is white and green like a striped peppermint sweet. But I also adore Kelly green. I particularly love this 1970s dress because it has a 1930s look: two of my favourite fashion eras combined.

It is made from 100% cotton, which is a rare find for this era, at least in thrift stores in this country. I came across it a couple of summers ago in a St Vincent de Paul Society op shop, and bought it for about $15, which was an amazing bargain. The label is ‘Acorn’, which is completely unfamiliar. I love that the extravagant lapels and tie belt are in contrasting stripes to the main polka dot pattern. Admittedly the dress is a size too large, but as it is a wrap that does not signify too much.

I like it worn with this vintage 30s, slightly battered straw hat. The patent leather kitten-heeled slingbacks, virtually new, are by Aussie label Top End, and also came from an op shop.

Such swishy skirts and joyful pattern put me exactly in the mood for sipping cocktails on a sunny rooftop somewhere – one of the other joys of summer.


P.S. Apologies for my long absence – I was on a staycation for all of November, but I was far too disinclined to turn my computer on at all!

Photos: April 2016